Need to Know: Racing 92 v Glasgow Match Preview

KO 3.15 at Stade Yves-du-Manoir, Saturday 14th November
Live on Sky Sports

Team Talk
The Glasgow line-up has been transformed since the opening day of the season, adding experience and depth as they look to make their mark in Europe. The 23 that takes on Racing 92 in the Champions Cup have a combined 1,255 previous Warriors appearance behind them, more than double the 577 of the squad that lost to the Scarlets. Gregor Townsend has opted for some additional defensive solidity by bringing Sean Lamont, Ryan Grant and Rob Harley into the starting XV but there is still plenty of flair and attacking potential in the backline.

Teams

RACING 92
15 Johannes Goosen
14 Joe Rokocoko
13 Henry Chavancy
12 Alexandre Dumoulin
11 Marc Andreu
10 Remi Tales
9 Maxime Machenaud (c)
GLASGOW WARRIORS
15 Stuart Hogg
14 Tommy Seymour
13 Mark Bennett
12 Peter Horne
11 Sean Lamont
10 Finn Russell
9 Mike Blair

1 Eddy Ben Arous
2 Camille Chat
3 Ben Tameifuna
4 Luke Charteris
5 Francois van der Merwe
6 Wenceslas Lauret
7 Bernard Le Roux
8 Chris Masoe

1 Ryan Grant
2 Pat MacArthur
3 Sila Puafisi
4 Leone Nakarawa
5 Jonny Gray (c)
6 Rob Harley
7 Simone Favaro
8 Josh Strauss

16 Dimitri Szarzewski
17 Julien Brugnaut
18 Cedate Gomes Sa
19 Thibault Dubarry
20 Yannick Nyanga
21 Xavier Chauveau
22 Benjamin Dambielle
23 Casey Laulala

16 Shalva Mamukashvili
17 Gordon Reid
18 Zander Fagerson
19 Tim Swinson
20 Ryan Wilson
21 Grayson Hart
22 Richie Vernon
23 Taqele Naiyarovoro

Glasgow Greetings:
7 players will make their European debuts for the Warriors on Saturday. Zander Fagerson joins new boys Mike Blair, Sila Puafisi, Simone Favaro, Shalva Mamukashvili, Grayson Hart, and Taqele Naiyarovoro in getting their first taste of Heineken Cup action in the black and blue jersey. Shalva will of course be making his very first Glasgow appearance in any competition when he gets on, becoming the 17th player to do so this season and the 52nd player in all to run out for the Warriors in the 2015/16 campaign.

Matchday Milestones:
After being stuck on 49 matches for over 3 years since his last Heineken Cup game (Edinburgh’s semi final with Ulster), Mike Blair will finally make his 50th European appearance. Tommy Seymour will play his 75th match for Glasgow and Ryan Grant moves on to 99 games played – just one away from that fabled Warriors’ Centurion status. If Sean Lamont goes over for a try he will move level with Tommy Hayes as Glasgow’s top try scorer in European competition.

Warriors One to Watch:
Having had his first game back last week to kick the tyres and knock the rust off, Mark Bennett’ s performance will be crucial to Glasgow’s chances in this fixture. Mark has moved seamlessly into both the Warriors and Scotland starting lineups over the past couple of seasons and has been a huge contributor to the continuity-based, offload-heavy game that Glasgow in particular want to play. He was outstanding in last season’s backs to the wall win over Montepellier and a similar level of performance will be required as the side travel to France once more.

Head to Head:
Back 3 – EVEN
Centres – ADV Glasgow
Half Backs – EVEN
Front Row – ADV Racing
Second Row – ADV Glasgow
Back Row – EVEN
Subs – ADV Racing

Toonie’s Track Record…
…against Top 14 teams in the Champions Cup:

  • 2 wins, 8 losses. 1 Try BP, 3 Losing BPs. 12 points in total out of a possible 50.
  • Castres, Toulon and Toulouse all did the double over the Warriors.
  • Glasgow themselves managed to win both fixtures against Montpellier in last season’s tournament. In fact Montpellier are the only French side Glasgow have beaten in Europe since they stunned Toulouse in January 2009. Which of course gives an excuse to post this video:

Key battles:

Discipline:
Glasgow’s early season struggles to stay on the right side of referees (as detailed here) does not bode well for Saturday’s trip to Paris. In last season’s tournament the Warriors were on the wrong end of a 46-20 penalty count in their 3 away fixtures. They also had to deal with 3 yellow cards and conceded 3 penalty tries. In fact Maxime Medard’s converted try for Toulouse at Stade Ernest Wallon accounted for the only points conceded by the Warriors in those 3 games that did not come directly from a penalty offence. The team need to be targeting conceding less than 10 penalties and ensuring no Glasgow players are carded.

The scrum:
In last season’s edition of the Champions Cup, Glasgow’s pack struggled to impose themselves at the set piece. 2 of the penalty tries noted above came directly from scrummages. The Warriors’ props also conceded a further 24 penalties in the 6 fixtures and accounted for a third of all offences committed by the team. This was over and above a big disparity in scrums where the competing sides won their own ball – their opponents managed this 91% of the time but Glasgow were only successful 72% of the time. It won’t matter how good the backline is if they don’t get a steady supply of good ball and have to spend the afternoon playing off the back foot.

Finn Russell v Remi Tales
It could have been Dan Carter – and possibly in the return at Scotsoun in just over 2 months time it will be – but for now Finn will still find his hands full containing Remi Tales who may be new to Racing but who is vastly experienced with over 250 top level matches behind him. Equally though the Frenchman will not relish facing the only Scottish stand off with the range of play and bag of tricks that the Finnocent One has at his disposal. With Mike Blair alongside him in the 9 shirt and Peter Horne at inside centre, Finn will be able to share the attacking and kicking duties and stop the Racing back row from focusing their attentions solely on him. Glasgow are fortunate enough to have decision makers and game breakers throughout their backline but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that however Russell goes will go a long way to dictating the level of performance that will be seen from the rest of his team mates.

Home and Away:
Racing have only won 7 of their 16 Heineken Cup matches at home over the past 5 seasons, although they won all 3 pool games at Stade Yves du Manoir last season before being edged out on their own patch by Saracens in the quarter finals. The Paris club have won all 4 of their home games so far in the Top 14.

Glasgow have tasted victory on the road on just 3 occasions in their last 15 attempts in European rugby’s premier competition. The Warrior’s away win in Cardiff last Saturday was their first of the season after losing out to both Munster and Leinster early in the campaign.

Officials:
Referee: JP Doyle (Eng)
Assistant Referees: Simon Harding, Paul Burton (both Eng)
TMO: Graham Hughes (Eng)
Citing Commissioner: Peter Ferguson (Ire)

Mr. Doyle gets his annual encounter with the Warriors and a French team. In 2013/14 it was Glasgow v Toulon at Scotstoun and in 2014/15 it was Montpellier v Glasgow at the Altrad Stadium. On both occasions the Warriors ended up on the wrong side of the penalty count and Mr. Doyle did not seem too enamoured with the side’s scrummaging. Yet another reason for Gregor, Kenny, Matt and the rest of the coaching and technical staff to have spent the last week reminding the players that it’s not just Santa that has a naughty list…

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